Written by Chamie... with words from Tim, too...
Sabbatical has been diverse. It has included exploring family spirituality within many different venues. When speaking of the places we’ve visited, we have sometimes gotten a rise out of people. For instance, when mentioning that we would be worshiping at Solomon’s Porch (www.solomonsporch.com) in Minneapolis, someone commented, “Oh, really” in that tone that says, “I’m not sure you should that.” I asked, “Why do you say that?” The response was, “Well, I hear they are rather liberal.” On another occasion, I mentioned our visit to Focus on the Family (www.focusonthefamily.com) in Colorado Springs and was met by a gasp of horror. “But they are off the chart on conservatism!” someone exclaimed.
Interestingly enough, during our travels, an old high school classmate who is now a Southern Baptist pastor posted a blog about the “death of the emergent church” and lambasted Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon’s Porch. Then we got to Focus on the Family this past Friday and I found it rather ironic, amusing, and intriguing that they were lambasting “the left” who had claimed “the Christian Right is dead.”
I must say that I’m rather tired of all the “dead” talk. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” What might it be to honor those who give life, be it on the left or the right? Tim and I saw a lot of life at Solomon’s Porch. We sat with one the largest group of younger adults I’ve seen gathered in one sanctuary in the U.S. (that wasn’t a campus) in quite a long time, people who were passionate about their faith and walking in the way of Jesus and serving the community beyond their church doors. That is life. We also saw life at Focus on the Family as the tour guide shared that their trained counselors talk to 300 people a day who are in crisis… suicide, depression, domestic violence…. I imagine that many lives have been transformed because there was someone to talk to and guide them to help. That, too, is life.
What might it mean to honor ministries that give life? I will tell you honestly that the thought of even walking into Focus on the Family made my stomach turn. I jokingly, yet nervously, wondered if they had a radar at the door that would mark me as “female clergy” and/or “registered Democrat” and get me immediately imprisoned in a small room where staff members would perform an intervention, maybe even an exorcism. Either I fooled the radar or they didn’t have one. Focus on the Family is not where I personally find life, but it does not mean that I do not honor others who have found life in their ministries.
Our family mission statement is Micah 6:8 which is “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” I think one of the tenets of humility is not to be so arrogant as to claim that “your church” has THE ANSWERS. Humility, I believe, is bold enough to claim the truth of one’s own life without forcing those truths upon another. My prayer is the right and the left could be humble enough to respect the life-giving love of God that by grace is available to all human beings.